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Name: J.N. v. Superior Court (Orange County)
Case #: G055499
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 05/22/2018

Juvenile court’s determination that minor was unsuitable for treatment in the juvenile court was not supported by substantial evidence and was therefore an abuse of discretion. J.N. was charged as an adult with murder, vandalism, and active participation in a street gang for an incident that occurred when he was 17 years old. Following the passage of Proposition 57, the trial court certified J.N. to the juvenile court to determine whether he should be treated in the juvenile system. The juvenile court concluded J.N. should be tried as an adult and transferred the matter back to adult court. J.N. filed a petition for writ of mandate, arguing the juvenile court abused its discretion by finding him unsuitable for treatment in the juvenile court. Held: Petition granted. To justify the transfer of a minor from juvenile court to the criminal court system, the prosecution bears the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence the minor is not a suitable candidate for treatment under the juvenile court system. The juvenile court must consider five statutory factors set forth in Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, subdivision (a)(2). Here, substantial evidence supported the juvenile court’s determination that three of the five factors favored suitability. However, substantial evidence did not support the juvenile court’s finding that J.N was not suitable because he would not be rehabilitated prior to the expiration of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction. The prosecution did not present any evidence demonstrating that rehabilitation programs in the juvenile court system were unlikely to result in J.N.’s rehabilitation. Substantial evidence also did not support the juvenile court’s unsuitability finding related to the circumstances and gravity of the offense. The court made many factual findings mitigating the gravity of the offense, but appeared to conclude that the statute excluded juveniles charged with murder from consideration for treatment in juvenile court, which is not the case.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: